Climate Changes

Several stories on the science and politics of global warming caught our attention this week:

Global temperatures have been warmer than the 20th century average every month for more than 25 years and 2010 has tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record, according to the annual State of the Climate 2010 published by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. The report also found that Arctic sea ice last year shrunk to the third smallest area on record and average global sea temperature was the third warmest on record.

Weather such as rain and colder temperatures can add up to an annual economic impact of as much as $485 billion in the U.S., according to a report led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “It’s clear that our economy isn’t weatherproof,” says NCAR scientist Jeffrey Lazo, the lead author. “Even routine changes in the weather can add up to substantial impacts on the U.S. economy.” Although it did not evaluate the possible impacts of climate change, the study authors hoped it will help policymakers determine whether it is worthwhile to invest in enhanced forecasts.

Tiny plankton are making their way from the Pacific Ocean back to the northern Atlantic Ocean, a sign of how climate change and reduced Arctic polar ice can encourage mass migration, according to a report by EU marine scientist group. The migrations, they say, are an example of how changing climate conditions cause species to move or change their behavior, leading to visible shifts in ecosystems. These shifts may not be all good, they added, noting that the plankton migration can cause collapse in fish stocks and fish-eating sea birds.

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